A King County Council committee approved the first of four pieces of legislation focused on providing better protections for renters and promoting development and access to affordable housing.
A major renter protection and affordable housing package moved forward on Tuesday when a King County Council committee passed the first of four pieces of legislation.
“This package of legislation is a major step in the right direction to protect the most disenfranchised residents in King County,” said King County Councilmember Larry Gossett, who championed the package. “If this legislation is approved, King County can be a model throughout the country on protecting renters, enhancing affordable housing, and mitigating the impacts of gentrification on longtime residents and those in need of affordable housing.”
Brought forward by Gossett and co-sponsored by Councilmembers Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Joe McDermott, the first legislation – passed by the Health, Housing and Human Services Committee – will take aim at creating a strategy to develop and retain affordable housing in Skyway and White Center.
The program, to be developed by the executive’s office and then implemented by council, would create community land trusts in communities with the highest minority populations in King County. It would include mandatory or voluntary inclusionary zoning, maintaining affordability for people living at up to 50% of area median income in White Center and Skyway. In addition, it would give preference to local community members displaced by increasing rents the first option to move back into those communities.
Tuesday’s passage marks the first step toward implementing a major renter protection package. Gossett and Kohl-Welles have backed three more pieces of legislation that will work together to increase protections for renters across King County and build up new programs to reduce displacement in at-risk communities. The measures include:
- Formation of a King County Renters’ Commission to advise officials on renter issues and possible measures to improve housing access and affordability.
- Revision of King County code to clarify when and how landlords can legally evict tenants through addition of just cause eviction definitions.
- Creation of a pilot program to help low-income renters when they are displaced by rent hikes in Skyway and White Center. The program would be a five-year pilot that would help tenants displaced by rising rents relocate back to their community through rental assistance and increased protections for existing renters.
“On paper, our economy is thriving,” Kohl-Welles said. “But in reality, too many of our neighbors are struggling to get by and are being priced out of their homes. This suite of legislation will help increase affordability for and access to stable housing as well as increased representation for renters. Most important, it will help renters feel a sense of stability knowing they can’t be evicted without just cause.”
Tuesday’s approved motion will go before the full council at its Oct. 24 meeting, while the other three measures will undergo further discussion in the council’s Health, Housing and Human Services Committee.